Punchline

Political families vs. Political dynasties

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

 

THERE is much ado about political dynasties, noting the many members of same families filing their respective certificates of candidacy, either succeeding a member or seeking a new position.

But do we really understand why we are standing up to so-called political dynasties?

We’ve started to append some notoriety to the political dynasty with our “sila-sila na lang,” “ Sila na naman!”  “Wala na bang iba?”

However, a closer look at the inference of those statements will tell us that we are actually shifting our responsibility to serve our communities to others. Understanding the context of these words of exasperation, if not expressions of disgust, I dare say the questions beg more questions than answers. To them I ask– “Oo nga, bakit hindi ikaw?”, “Bakit sila na lang parati?”, “Kung hindi ka tatakbo, sino pa?  

And as most would expect, our cop-out responses range from: “Wala akong pera.” , “Wala akong panahon,”, “Wala akong partido.”,  “Wala akong experience.” , “Hindi ako kilala”  It’s either WALA or HINDI!

Inversely, the responses we get from political families are: “Meron kaming pera,”, “Meron kaming panahon,”, “Meron kaming partido.”, “Meron kaming experience.” “Kilala na kami.” “Tatakbo kami”

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CREATING POLITICAL FAMILIES. But how can anyone deny them their reality because they started from knowing and having little of everything, when no one else picked up the challenge.  We cannot but credit them with the fact that what they achieved for themselves was through their initiative. They tried their hand in politics despite initial odds, took the risks… and succeeded.

And over the years, their names became synonymous with public service… the people we run to for emergencies, to solve financial and legal problems. Their constituents pledge loyalty out of “utang na loob” and soon became loyal supporters willing to support other members of the family who take on other elective posts in the community.

Does that make the family a political dynasty? No, but political families? Yes!

So, what makes them a dynasty? It’s when people support and elect members of the family to various posts for reasons of their own.

But is being a political dynasty corrupt? No. There are respectable political dynasties and there are corrupt and violent political dynasties.  It’s a different matter altogether if a political dynasty obtained power through illegal means, violence and ill-gotten wealth. To this we can say – “Kaya naman sila nandyan, pwe!”

Note that in most discussions about political dynasties, there is the assumption that only wealthy political families that can afford to launch a campaign and buy votes can stay in power forever.

That assumption is unstudied, reckless and imprudent as I pointed out above.

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CORRUPT POLITICAL DYNASTIES, POLITICOS. There is the essential fact that nobody assumes political power unless elected by the people.  So the premise that one succeeds a family member in an elective post as a matter of right is alien to the discussion. That is utterly false.

It’s us who create political families because we vote for them. And it is us who create political dynasties by electing members of political families to public offices.

But when does a hated corrupt political dynasty take shape? (Note the qualification. Not all political dynasties are corrupt).

In the context of today’s politics, dynastism is largely associated with corruption and opportunism and yet in both cases, these are not limited to political dynasties. There are as many corrupt and opportunistic politicos as there are corrupt political dynasties across the country.

Corruption starts with vote-buying. It has become rampant not because wealthy politicians have a lot to spare but because Comelec and its agents turn a blind eye to this nefarious practice during elections. It has become rampant because the voters do not report and file cases against the politicos who flout the law on vote-buying.

No case, no crime. Vote-buying became a necessary evil in local politics because everyone is told to do it without fear of retribution or arrest by anyone. From there the cycle of corruption starts.

From vote-buying came arrogance. One mayor reportedly sent off a constituent appealing for help after reminding the mayor that she supported his candidacy, with a retort: “Huwag ka nang maraming satsat, binayaran naman kita ah!” 

Then comes corruption via influence peddling. Then the opportunities for rigging bids for construction projects. Then payroll padding for ghost employees. Then illegal disbursement of discretionary funds and calamity funds.  Then there is the protection racket for illegal gambling and drug trade.

And when re-election is sought, the corrupt re-electionist who by then already knows the tricks of the trade that starts with vote-buying.

And are these sins exclusive to political dynasties? No. Corrupt dynasties and politicos, yes.

So next time you speak of political dynasties, qualify your statement.

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FIGHT VS. TYRANNY. The protest of left-wing association of teachers to the ongoing monitoring of recruitment of members among students in schools by law enforcers is self-serving and dangerous, and should alert parents in the province.

It is in schools where we expect our children to learn more about nationalism and civic duties, good manners and right conduct as well. This is what molded many elder parents and grandparents today who became productive.  And for this alone, I must admit I have to credit martial law for it. Why so?

Student activism in the 60s was anything but productive.  Sure it helped young minds to be more aware and vigilant about abuses in government but the end game was about subverting government to give way to communist rule.

Fortunately, it was nipped in the bud when martial law was declared. We were beginning to see the best minds being conditioned to subvert government. The disruptive activities had the fight against tyranny movement as a cover. 

For us who were in high school and college during martial law, the populace was bombarded with propaganda about a “New Society”, about need for national discipline with the message “Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan.” Except for the fact that it was pure and simple propaganda of the martial regime, one could not quarrel with the message. In fact, it was and still is very relevant today.

Looking back, we saw how the brightest of minds fall prey to the left-wing cause and perished in the end. They could have made a difference in a peaceful environment but their minds were obsessed with need for subversive activities.

Alas, I am seeing a repeat of the same activities today. And my worst fear of seeing many of our young bright minds being lured to the same route of self-destruction is happening. They, too, will again be made to suffer violent deaths all for an outdated irrelevant cause.

There was an active recruitment in school campuses for the “fight tyranny” movement. Then, and the same script is being replayed by left-wing activists today.

The young ones today can validate these from the young ones of before who survived the era of fight against tyranny.

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